As I sip this unusual Five-Spice Butternut Bourbon Cocktail I’m filled with a bit of post season summer nostalgia. I look at the calendar and I plainly see that autumn is in full swing. But still, I sometimes find myself looking over my shoulder searching for the invisible hand tugging on the back of my t-shirt. It’s the feeling that summer won’t let go of me. Or maybe I mean that I won’t let go of summer with its trips to the beach, ice-cream sandwiches and warm sighs of childhood nostalgia. However, like the tickling sensation from the fluttering of a lightning bug wiggling inside my cupped hands, summer nostalgia is a fleeting feeling.
Butternut Bourbon helps me realize that it’s time to quit dragging my flip flops and embrace sweater season. The days may be getting shorter, but autumn doesn’t need to seem like the end of anything. I’m not alone in this feeling. In The Great Gatsby, Jordan, in replying to Daisy’s melancholy about the end of her Gatsby summer says: “Don’t be morbid . . . life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”
And so it does. When I think of fall, I think of the rich hues of the changing leaves, the smell of smoke in the air and the warm flavors of winter squash. As much as I love these combinations whirled into a creamy soup or layered into a rich flaky crust – let’s not forget that they can be shaken and stirred just as easily as baked and braised.
Which is how I came to find myself infusing butternut squash into bourbon as a way of welcoming the possibilities of the new season. I’ll admit butternut bourbon is an unusual combination, but if you’re looking for a unique cocktail to serve on Thanksgiving these flavors are naturals for the cool weather and festive spirits. Five-spice syrup amps up the flavor and lends an earthy depth of sugar and spice. Perfect for the season.